Earlier this week, Vice Motherboard and PCMag published the results of their investigation and talked about how Avast collects and sells user data to third parties. If earlier this happened with the help of browser extensions, now this functionality has migrated to the antivirus itself.
Avast's Data Selling Division is a subsidiary of Jumpshot, which offers its customers access to user traffic from 100,000,000 devices, including computers and telephones. Jumpshot was acquired in 2013 and started working under the auspices of Avast as a tool for cleaning PCs. But in 2015, a subsidiary changed its profile to analytics, and its focus was on marketing analytics based on an analysis of online consumer spending and shopping models.
Although journalists acknowledged that the data collected by Avast is not tied to a specific person’s name, email address or IP address, that is, they are de jure impersonal, it was emphasized that each user is still assigned a unique ID, called a device identifier, which remains until until the user removes the Avast antivirus product from their device. Moreover, it is not difficult for Jumpshot client companies to compare comprehensive data about Avast users with information from other sources, so that as a result, a detailed profile of a completely specific person can be compiled.
Today, January 30, 2020, Avast representatives announcedthat in the near future the company will cease to provide data to its subsidiary Jumpshot and will begin its liquidation.
“Avast’s main goal is to ensure the security of its users on the network and provide control over their privacy,” writes Ondrej Vlcek, Avast CEO. – Any actions that jeopardize user confidence are not acceptable to Avast. The privacy of our users is our top priority, so we decided to act promptly. We decided to close Jumpshot after it became apparent that some users were questioning the relevance of the Jumpshot data to our mission and principles that are fundamental to us.
We regret the impact our decision will have on Jumpshot employees; we value their input. We will try to smooth out for them the consequences of this decision. ”
The company's blog also emphasizes that Jumpshot, even as a subsidiary of Avast, has always acted as an independent company with its own management and board of directors.
Avast promised that the rest of the company's products will continue to work as usual, and users will not notice the changes.